When it comes to The Leftovers, the end is near.
Not only will the upcoming third season of HBO's exquisite drama be its last, but early into the season premiere, the series will jump three years into the future, making it only a few weeks away from the seventh anniversary of the Departure.
A vocal, fearful and faithful subset of the population has decided that this anniversary will mark the conclusion of whatever began when 2 percent of the world's population inexplicably disappeared all those years prior. Even those who don't believe that the world will end on Oct. 14, 2017 are forced to cope with the reality that many of those around them do, creating even more wrinkles in already complicated relationships.
After their idyllic reunion in the Season 2 finale, Kevin (Justin Theroux) and Nora's (Carrie Coon) relationship will have become more wrought than ever when the series picks up. With both parties reinvested in their work (with the police force and Department of Sudden Departure, respectively) Kevin and Nora are working hard to stay busy and look normal while they each secretly struggle to cope with the fallout of everything they've seen, survived and lost.
"She's trying to discover who she is," explains Coon. "Because of course, we find out very early she's lost somebody else and she's not really dealing with the emotional fallout of that. So we find Nora unfortunately pretending, which for me is a step back, I think, because at the top of Season 2 she was so hopeful and reinvesting in a new family."
After the high-drama of killing dogs, being haunted and doing karaoke in the afterlife, Kevin is also on a journey to discover who he is and how to move forward in life after experiencing two deaths. "I think he's hit this kind of stasis, this normality, which maybe he doesn't even love that much," Theroux says.
Adds Coon: "And now we find Kevin's keeping secrets, Nora's keeping secrets and of course, their relationship has traditionally been a very honest one. And we just don't know if they're going to survive what the world throws at them."
However, while the years will have driven a wedge between Kevin and Nora, it will also have brought John (Kevin Carroll) and Michael (Jovan Adepo) closer. After witnessing the one thing he never believed in — a genuine miracle — Kevin has reevaluated his stance on faith, opening up a new way for the previously strained father and son to connect.
"When we get a chance to see how that has propelled [John] forward, he's able to see life in a way that he never was able to before that emotional crack happened," Carroll says. "I think it released John in a way and it also redefined, for John, some of the things that he needed to consider in his life."
But while all the characters will have reacted in drastically different way to the preceding events, don't expect the final season to give any insight into whose beliefs are correct or what the best way to cope with these experiences is. Because, as is The Leftovers' M.O., this season isn't about answers, but is about what happens when there are no answers.
"I would say the overall theme of Season 3 of The Leftovers is about our belief systems," director Mimi Leder explains. "It's about the stories we tell ourselves to bring meaning and clarity to our lives, bring us peace, maybe some hope, some happiness. I think life is hard and I think Season 1 was about the Event and Season 2 was definitely a reaction to that and Season 3 is the stories we tell ourselves."